Rhodope Mountains Bike Tour

MTB | Bulgaria

Enjoy an adventure that offers countless dirt roads, single tracks and tiny bits of asphalt, beautiful ascents and pure pleasure on the descents. Explore the incredible Rhodope Mountain and learn about Bulgarian nature and culture.

Distance per day: 30-50km

Elevation per day: 350–800m

Technical difficulty: moderate – off-road cycling experience required, including steep and technical dirt roads and easy single tracks.

Physical difficulty: moderate – good physical conditions, frequent sport activities required.

Accommodation: mountain chalets/hotels and family-run guest houses

Photos

Mountain Biking, Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria

Mountain Biking, Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria

Mountain Biking, Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria

Mountain Biking, Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria

Main Itinerary

DAY 1

Arrival at Sofia Airport, Bulgaria

Transfer to the hotel in Sofia and check-in

Get together meeting and short discussion

Optional: Evening visit and dinner in city downtown, accompanied by our guide

Overnight in Sofia

DAY 2

Breakfast in the hotel

Transfer to the village of Lokorsko, 30 min.

Route Distance: 24 km

Start point / Finish point: Lokorsko / Lokorsko

Start / Highest / Finish altitude: 588m / 1060m / 588m

Duration: 3,50 hours

Description: Warm-up day on a classic cross-country route, starting near the village of Lokorsko, north of Sofia. The route makes a loop up the southern slopes of Sofia Mountain, which is part of the long Balkan Mountain Range. After the smooth ascent, we have a few kilometers of ridge riding with excellent panoramas towards the Balkan Mountains, Vitosha Mountains, Rila Mountains and Sofia. For a descent we have several ridges, with different difficulty, that will take us down again, near the village of Lokorsko. Here we have options to choose between different dirt roads and single tracks depending on the group riding level.

Highlights: warming-up and getting used to the bike, enjoying excellent rides in Sofia’s best XC terrain along with mountainous landscape, a monastery, several impressive communist structures from the past.

Transfer: back to Sofia, 30 min.

Free time or optional visit of any of Sofia’s cultural and historical locations.

Dinner in the hotel.

Overnight in Sofia.

DAY 3

Breakfast in the hotel.

Transfer to Belmeken Dam, Rila Mountains, 2,30h.

Route Distance: 33 km

Start point/Finish point: Belmeken Dam / Treshtenik area

Start / Highest / Finish altitude: 1915m / 2020m / 1715m

Duration: 5 hours

Description: The second day of riding offers a significant challenge. Ahead of us is a short, but tough route. The terrain is constantly changing from smooth to stony high mountain road, which requires attention on the descents and good physical condition on the ascents. The reward for your efforts – you’ll be able to enjoy stunning views towards Pirin Mountains and the alpine environment of Rila Mountains.

Highlights: high mountain riding, Panoramas of Pirin, Rila and Rhodope mountains, Djendem River Canyon.

Dinner in the hotel.

Overnight in Treshtenik.

DAY 4

Breakfast the hotel.

Route Distance: 35-45 km

Start point / Finish point: Treshtenik area / the village of Godlevo, Southern Rila

Mountain Start / Highest / Finish Elevation: 1715m / 1894m / 880m

Duration: 4-5 hours

Highlights: a day of pleasurable XC descent, panoramas towards Rila and Pirin Mountains, Belitsa Dancing Bears Park, overnight in traditional family-run house.

Free time and walk around the village.

Dinner in the family-run house.

Overnight in the village of Godlevo.

DAY 5

Breakfast in the family run-house.

Transfer to the village of Avramovo, 1 hour.

Route Distance: 48 km

Start point / Finish point: the village of Avramovo / the town of Velingrad

Start/Highest/Finish Elevation: 1290m/1705m/760m

Duration: 5 hours

Description: Another classic XC day with accent on the descent. The day starts in the village of Avramovo, famous for being the highest train station on the Balkan Peninsula. Today’s route will take us through series of sandy dirt roads with variety of steepness. Moreover, this route has culture value as well, as it passes through an area populated with Pomaks. Pomaks occupy mainly Rhodope Mountains and parts of Greece and Turkey. They were Christian Heretics who accepted Islam during the Ottoman presence on the Balkan Peninsula. Nowadays, they live in picturesque villages up in the mountains. The first part of the route climbs up to Velijtsa peak through fields of rye and potatoes afterwards we descend to the village of Ortzevo, where we stop for a break. We continue on a section with constant ups and downs. It will take us down to the asphalt road between Velingrad and Sarnica. In Velingrad we stop for the night.

Highlights: cycling on smooth sandy road, Pomaks villages, highest train station on the Balkan Peninsula.

Free time and walk around the town.

Dinner in the hotel.

Overnight in the town of Velingrad.

DAY 6

Breakfast in the hotel.

Transfer to Beglika Dam, 45 min.

Route Distance: 46 km

Start point / Finish point: Beglika Dam / the village of Borino

Start/Highest/Finish Elevation: 1510m / 1560m / 1145m

Duration: 4,50 hours

Description: The route takes us on a panoramic tour around some of Rhodope mountain most beautiful dams and finishes with a nice descent towards the village of Borino. The support car leaves us near Beglika Dam and we warm up with a few kilometers of asphalt when reaching Goliam Beglik Dam. Soon we turn off of the asphalt, continuing on a forest road with no major elevation changes. We follow the road until Shiroka Poliana Dam and then we take a smooth ride along its nice shore. In few kilometers we start to descent in the beautiful valley of Sarnena River, which is one of the biggest rivers in Southern Bulgaria. The last few kilometers the cycling route continues on asphalt road, which ends in the village of Borino, where we stop for the night.

Free time and walk around the village.

Dinner in the guest house.

Overnight in the village of Borino.

DAY 7

Breakfast in the guest house.

Transfer to the village of Chala Route.

Distance: 30 km

Start point / Finish point: the village of Chala / the village of Trigrad

Start/Highest/Finish Elevation: 1430m/1560m/1310m

Duration: 4 hours

Description: The last day is dedicated to the most beautiful caves in the Rhodope Mountains. The route starts from the village of Chala, situated on a picturesque area, not far from the Greek border. An impressive panoramic view towards Videnitsa Peak unfolds just outside of Chala. Videnitsa  peak is assumed to be the sanctuary of Dionysus, the God of the wine and merriment in the Greek mythology. The route almost touches the border with Greece in the village of Buinovo and then descents towards the valley of Buinovska River to the Yagodinska Cave, which is the longest cave in the Rhodope Mountains and it’s famous for its cave pearls. There is a ritual hall in the cave, where people get married. From the entrance of the cave the road continues climbing to the village of Yagodina and then turns to a forest road which ends in the spectacular canyon of Trigrad River. In the deepest part of the canyon the river is hiding deep in the Devil’s Throat Cave, where forms a magnificent waterfall. Our last cycling day finishes with a farewell dinner in the village of Trigrad.

Free time and walk around the village.

Dinner in the family-run guesthouse.

Overnight in the village of Trigrad.

DAY 8

Breakfast in the family-run guest house.

Optional: depending on the flight departure, guided visit of Plovdiv, Belintash Thracian Sanctuary or the natural rock Miraculous bridges.

Transfer to Sofia, 2,50 hours.

 

About the area

Rhodope Mountains are part of the oldest landmass on the Balkan Peninsula – the Rilo-Rhodope Мassif, which includes also Rila and Pirin Mountains, and a few smaller mountain ranges. They are stretched at about 15 000 square kilometres, with about 90% of them located in Bulgaria and remaining 10% in Greece. That makes it the most extensive mountain range in the country, situated in the southwest parts of Bulgaria. The highest point is mount Golyam Perelik (2191 m.), second highest is Mount Karluk (also known as Mount Orpheus). Both are located in Western Rhodopes and are part of the ridge Perelik, situated near the famous ski resort of Pamporovo.

The mountains are with a very complicated structure, an extensive network of separated ridges and deep gorges, covered by green meadows and the largest coniferous woods on the Balkans. They miss the alpine relief – jagged peaks and glacial lakes – of Rila and Pirin mountains. In fact the area was not covered by ice during the last Ice Age. Despite this, some parts of it are famous with their rock formations and caves, result of their Karst structure. The most popular among these sights are the Trigrad Gorge and Devil’s Throat Cave, Yagodinska and Snezanka caves.

Thermal water sources can be found all over the mountains, some of them used for recreation in the towns of Velingrad and Devin, and smaller villages like Narechen, Beden and others.

 

 

Climate

The climate varies a lot, determined both by the cold northern air masses and the milder Mediterranean climate. The average annual temperature in the Eastern Rhodopes is 12–13°C, the maximum value of precipitation is in December, the minimum is in August. In the Western Rhodopes, the temperature varies with 5° to 9°C and the summer rainfalls prevail. The microclimate of some areas like the spa town of Devin is very mild and hardly any snow remains there for a long time, however just about 20 kilometres away the biggest Rhodopean ski resort Pamporovo has a snow cover almost most of the winter.

Wildlife

The wildlife is presented by the largest population of Brown Bear in Bulgaria – it is estimated that about 400 of them inhabit the area. Wild Boar, Wolf, Roe Deer, Chamois, Fox and other mammals can be seen in these territories, where 15 protected areas, some of them UNESCO listed, are established to preserve nature. Most of the European Birds of Prey nest in the Eastern Rhodopes, including the very rare Black Vulture and Egyptian Vulture.

Culture

The mountains were inhabited since the times of the Thracians and are quite populated nowadays. They are also known as “The mountain of Orpheus”. Orpheus is the famous musician from the Greek Mythology, who had Thracian origins. He was considered the best singer and poet of the Antiquity. It is believed that he was born here, in the Rhodope mountains, when the Thracian tribe of the Besi lived here. The symbol of the mountains is a flower, which is seen only in this region – the Rhodope Silivryak (Haberlea Rhodopensis). It is also famous as the flower of Orpheus.

The cultural heritage of the area includes unique Rhodopean music (bagpipe is the most popular instrument), singing, dancing, cuisine, traditions, handicrafts and language. The area inhabited from prehistoric times, finds in some of the caves are dated to 5-4 century B.C. The historical artefacts from the Thracians (ancient tribes that inhabited the area) are spread all around – remnants of sanctuaries, old cities, tombs and so on, however not all of them are properly explored yet. The most popular sites are Perpericon near the town of Kardzhali and Tatul in Eastern Rhodopes. There are also remnants of Byzantine fortresses, villages and roads along with medieval Bulgarian fortresses and monasteries.

Map
What gear to bring?
  • Comfortable summer riding clothes
  • Trainers/bike shoes
  • Water and wind proof jacket with hood
  • Light backpack with camelback
  • Sunglasses/riding glasses
  • Sun protection cream
  • Helmet
  • Riding gloves
  • Knee pads advisable
  • Personal first aid kit

If you bring your own bike, please get a personal riding repair kit – tool, inner tube/s, pump.

Prices

1 person – 1420€

2 persons – 800€

3 persons – 730€

4 persons 570€

5 persosn – 500€

6 persosn – 450€

7 persons – 415€

8 persons – 390€

You can rent/buy from us

Rent:

  • Bikes (Hardtail Bikes RAM HT1/HT2 with flat pedals) – 10€ / day
  • Helmet

Buy:

  • Helmet
  • Riding gloves
  • Knee pads
  • Clothes
  • Other bike accessories

 

What's included?
  • Guiding
  • Transport
  • Food & Accommodation
Your trip expenses do not include
  • Mountain biking insurance
  • Flights
How to book your place

You can simply register by using the web form on the right hand side, e-mail, call or message us on facebook or twitter and we will contact our local guide to move forward with your booking.

Looking forward to hearing from you!